Talking about the On the Run tour without breaking into cliché is difficult.
It goes without saying that any Beyoncé concert in Houston is special. It's, at the very least, a homecoming. When you add in her mega popular husband and set the whole thing in Minute Maid Park, it becomes even more than that: it becomes an event.
And even still, it's more than that.
On the Run is the culmination of the entire Beyoncé/Jay Z thing. Everything in their professional and personal lives -- every single, every collaboration, every bit of gossip, every moment kept private, every announcement made public -- has been building to this. The public just didn't know it until it happened.
This is their epic, in high definition for the world to see.
Every major concert tour, if it's worth anything, has its capital-m Moment that leaves attendees feeling a rush of emotion. Roger Waters tears down the wall; Kanye speaks to you unfiltered and unedited from the heart; Taylor Swift drives herself to tears; etc. etc. etc. You can put on a major production without one, but to do so is to assign your tour to the dustbin of history.
On The Run has the greatest Moment in modern touring history, a moment of stagecraft that no one else in music could get close to let alone replicate. It's beautiful in its simplicity, yet the image it creates is magic.
Picture this: two of the most beloved figures in modern music stand with their arms around each other, facing away from the crowd and looking up at home movies of their child -- the one the public rarely if ever sees, whose announcement during the 2011 VMAs set a tweets-per-second record, and who is the youngest artist to ever hit the Billboard charts, while the proud father beams and the mother sings her most sublime of hooks ("Halo"). It's the ultimate pull-back-the-curtain moment from a couple who spent so long not showing anything and the obvious pride and happiness on their faces is enough to melt even the darkest of hearts.
That it comes after almost two and a half hours of breakneck energy and a seemingly endless string of hits -- the set list runs more than 40 damn songs -- keeps it from being too sappy and saccharine. They may walk the stage icons and kick ass like superheroes and they may live in a world that most of us can barely dream of, but they're also people with tragedies and triumphs, hopes and fears, and all those other things that make up the human experience.
What they've produced with this tour is a masterpiece, but one that's very personal. It may be the world's biggest victory lap, and it's entirely deserved.
Story continues on the next page.
It's easy to forget just how insanely popular Beyoncé and Jay Z are, but when we talk about them we're talking about two human beings who have combined to sell more than 300 million records and pick up 36 Grammys along the way. Even if you think that record sales are worthless and that awards are meaningless, those are still pretty impressive figures.
The reality is that the couple that is Beyoncé and Jay Z is a once-in-a-generation thing. It's like Cal Ripkin Jr.'s consecutive-game streak or Brock Lesnar beating The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 30. Eventually someone else will play a lot of baseball without stopping, and eventually another wrestler will win 20 times at Wrestlemania only to finally lose a match. Eventually two of the biggest names in music will get married and reign at the top...but we may not be here to see it.
What are the odds that another rapper will rise up to become the biggest name in the game and another singer will become an icon and that they'll just happen to fall in love with each other as well? Short of Drake marrying Rihanna, it isn't happening for a while at least. (If Kendrick Lamar and, say, Ariana Grande get married in seven years, feel free to laugh at how wrong this point is.) Even if that pairing did work out, it wouldn't be the same because all of us living through Beyoncé & Jay Z would just see them as a poor knockoff.
Odds are they'll tour again in a few years, and even if that show is also balls-to-the-wall awesome, it won't have the same impact as On the Run because the narrative will be different. It has no choice but to be. This is the culmination of who they are now, but they both have stories left to write.
Those stories may not all be epics, but they'll be fascinating to hear. For now, let us all appreciate this moment for what it is, when two talented artists came together to make something bigger than themselves and justified all the clichés that came to mind.
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